Great Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day (WMN.ph)

(This “Mother’s Day” article was published in WMN.ph last April 2009 )

Each time Mother’s Day comes around, you rack your brain for the perfect gift to give your mom. But what can you give to a woman who has it all? To make it easy for you, here’s a list of gift ideas to suit every budget.

1. A Day at the Spa
Pamper your mom by treating her to a full day at the spa. She would surely enjoy a soothing aromatherapy body massage (P820) and other wellness treatments. Give her a day of rest and relaxation by presenting her with gift certificates from The Spa. Visit their branches around the metro or check out their website.

2. All About Beauty
You can never go wrong with giving a lady some kind of beauty product. Go for a nice-smelling perfume like Lacoste Touch of Pink (P4,150). She’ll definitely love its sweet scent! Look for more beauty products at Watson’s or other department stores.

3. Smell the Roses
Brighten up your mom’s day with some fresh flowers that she can display at home. Choose from a wide variety of floral arrangements (P150+) at Dangwa Flower Market along Dos Castillas Street in Sampaloc.

4. Wine and Dine
Schedule a date with your mom at a fancy restaurant and make sure that you offer to get the tab! Indulge and let her enjoy a scrumptious dinner buffet (P1,600+) at Circles Event Cafe in Shangri-La Hotel Makati. It’s best to make a reservation before going: call (02) 813-8888.

5. Bring Out Her Inner Fashionista
What woman wouldn’t appreciate a new pair of shoes? You can splurge on a designer item, but if your budget wouldn’t permit it, a simple one would do. Just get something that suits her taste. Try bargain bag hunting at Greenhills Shopping Center.

6. Be a Health Buff
Many mothers are striving for a healthy lifestyle but not everyone can do serious workouts. Let your mom try out yoga and see if she likes it. Give the gift of health and enroll her in a beginners’ yoga class. See www.yogamanila.com for more information.

7. All that Glitters
Women have an ongoing love affair with jewelry. You don’t have to get your mom something expensive; a simple pair of pearl earrings (P500) would suffice. Take your pick from the wide selection at the Pearl Market in Greenhills Shopping Center. 

8. Go Nature Tripping
Bring your mom and the rest of your family to the La Mesa Ecopark and enjoy this oasis in the heart of the city. For a mere P40 per person, you can treat your whole family and let them commune with nature. Head to East Farview Subdivision in Quezon City or find out more details first at www.lamesaecopark.com.

9. Get Gadget Crazy
For the tech-savvy mom, only the latest gadget would do. Consider giving her the new iPod shuffle (P4,190) that has a VoiceOver feature. With this, she’ll be able to store more of her favorite songs that she can listen to. Purchase it online at the Apple Store.

10. Be a Culture Vulture
Let your mom see more of the Philippines’ cultural side. Check out the latest exhibit at Ayala Museum in Greenbelt. Or, get a couple of tickets and accompany your mom to see a ballet, musical play, or whatever is showing at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

(Image taken from this site.)

Typhoon Ketsana: The Aftermath

Here’s a piece I wrote a couple of days after Typhoon Ketsana hit Metro Manila and left it underwater.

No one was prepared for the wrath that typhoon Ketsana (local name Ondoy) released when it hit the Philippines last September 26, 2009. That was the day when Metro Manila experienced the worst rainfall in its history. Imagine getting 341 mm or 13.4 inches of rainfall in just a matter of six hours. That’s about a month’s worth of rainfall that the country usually gets. And although the Philippines is no stranger to typhoons, this was, by far, the worst ever and the one that left the most destruction.

From 8 AM to 2 PM that day, practically the whole of Metro Manila turned into a water world. The water filled the streets, underpasses, major highways, and buildings and residences. People were forced to seek higher ground – on top of their cars, rooftops and whatever stable structure they could get a hold of. And even if you get to the top, you’ll still feel scared when you see what’s happening on the ground – people needing rescue, objects being swallowed by the raging waters, parked cars moving along with the waves (yes, there were waves on the streets that used to be solid and dry). It wasn’t a pretty sight. I guess you really can’t put it to words. I think this video would tell it all.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcbTckGR-1o&feature=fvst]

This was taken inside a local hospital somewhere in Manila.

Typhoon Ketsana spared no one. Everyone was affected – the old, the young, the wealthy, the poor… The worst hit areas were Marikina, Rizal and Pasig, where the water level reached the second floor and people got stranded on the rooftops for hours, and others even more than 24 hours. They were drenched, cold, hungry and scared to death. Even when the rains stopped, rescue efforts couldn’t get to them right away because these areas became impassable and vehicles couldn’t get through. Those who had relatives on these areas braved the rains and the floods and went there on foot in the hope of rescuing them. The good thing that came out of this was that strangers were helping each other out – risking their lives to keep the others safe.

Even if the typhoon has already left the country, what happened is still fresh in the minds of the Filipinos. Ketsana left about 80% of Metro Manila underwater, more than a quarter of a million people displaced, more than two hundred dead, and millions worth of damage. The clean up has already begun and relief operations are ongoing. The Internet became a big tool in getting donations from other Filipinos abroad who wanted to help. People are updating their Facebook, Twitter and other sites on how to send donations over. A lot have responded, not only fellow Filipinos but other nationalities as well, even popular personalities like Demi Moore and Josh Groban have called for help to donate through their Twitter accounts.

Despite everything though, many Filipinos are thankful for having survived this ordeal, including the Pepper team who are all safe and sound – thank God. This tragedy has brought out the best in many Filipinos. Those who are able have been donating their time, effort and money to those in need. As of now, many individuals and groups have set up relief efforts by accepting donations and distributing them to the affected areas, because the residents there practically have to start from scratch since their homes were destroyed. If you want to help them pick up the pieces, you can do so by sending over cash or goods (clothes, food, drinks, medicines, blankets…) If you’re abroad, you can donate online or by phone.

Donate Online:

PhilippineAid.com
Ayala Foundation (select AFI-Typhoon Relief Fund in drop down menu)
World Food Programme
TXTPower (Paypal) 
Ateneo Alumni Northeast, Inc. 
Xoom
HOPE Worldwide
Australian Red Cross

Donate by Phone:

USA: Call the American Red Cross at 1-800-435-7669. Please choose the 3rd option (International Donation), then tell the operator that your donation is for the Ondoy (Ketsana) typhoon victims in the Philippines.

Local Hotlines:

Red Cross donation through SMS: text REDAMOUNT to 2899 (Globe) or 4483 (Smart)

For people who need assistance:

National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) Emergency Numbers: (+632) 912-5668, (+632) 911-1406, (+632) 912-2665, (+632) 911-5061. Help hotlines: (+632) 734-2118, (+632) 734-2120

(Published in www.PepperVirtualAssistant.com, September 30, 2009)

CD Review: Interpreter by Silverfilter (Mabuhay Magazine)

The electronica scene in Manila may not be as popular as the ubiquitous show bands, but it is kept alive by one of the more well known local electronica acts, Silverfilter.  This one-man act just released his second album, Interpreter, which features a collection of remixes that Silverfilter has done over the years.  The 12-track CD contains a wide range of music, from chill out to techno to house.  The opening track, “The Indefinite…,” showcases Silverfilter’s musical expertise as he transforms rock music into electronica.  You would surely be hooked to the pulsating beats and infectious vibe of Silverfilter’s music.   

(You can get the album from www.silverfilter.com or www.fliptunes.net.)

Rating: 4 stars

(Published in Mabuhay Magazine, April 2008)

CD Review: "From Inside the Fishbowl" by Overtone (Mabuhay Magazine)

Overtone is one of the long-time playing local rock bands who finally took a leap from regularly performing in bars into releasing their debut album, “…from inside the fishbowl.”  The songs from their album reflect the kind of alternative and pop punk music that they perform in their gigs.  Tracks such as “Comic Book Hero” and “I’m Not a Psychic” show how foreign bands like Green Day, Fall Out Boy and Hoobastank have been great influences to them.  The other upbeat tunes in Overtone’s 12-track CD would definitely make you appreciate punk rock more.

(You can get their album from selected record bars around the metro.)

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

(Published in Mabuhay Magazine, April 2008)